How to Make Tallow Emergency Candles

how to make tallow candles

Before we get started, I want to set the record straight…

These candles don’t have to be *just* for emergencies. They could also be:

I-want-to-try-my-hand-at-making-candles” Candles.

Or…

These-would-make-a-fun-gift” Candles.

Or…

I-can’t-resist-anything-that-comes-in-a-mason-jar” Candles.

But they make especially nice emergency or survival candles since they are fairly inexpensive and you can make a bunch at once.

You can make candles out of many different materials, but I especially like using tallow since it allows me to put ALL of our home-raised beef to good use and it’s super-frugal. People have been burning candles made from animal fat for thousands of years, and it’s kinda fun to follow in their footsteps.

Here’s my detailed tutorial that’ll show you how to render beef tallow yourself. But if you don’t want to use tallow to make candles, you can also follow this same tutorial and use soy wax instead. (affiliate link)

How to Make Tallow Emergency Candles

You will need:

I didn’t include exact measurements for anything because this recipe is super-duper flexible. I like using pint-sized mason jars, but you can really use any size. The amount of tallow you need will depend on how many candles you want to make and what size your containers are.

First off, melt your tallow or wax in a double-boiler. I don’t have a double boiler, so I rigged up a DIY double-boiler instead.

I placed the tallow chunks inside a #10 can, and placed the can inside a stock pot filled half-full with water.

how to make survival candles

Using a can is especially handy since you don’t  have to clean it out afterwards. (Washing off tallow or wax generally isn’t easy…) Thanks to Happy Money Saver for inspiring this idea. ;)

Once the tallow has melted completely, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool for a bit.

While the tallow is cooling off, you can prepare your jars.

how to make talllow emergency candles

Place one wick in each jar. Now–this is the hardest part–you want the wicks to stay in the middle of the jar once you pour the tallow in. To accomplish this, you have several options:

  • You can use a hot glue gun to glue the wick to the bottom of each jar.
  • You can use a Sticky Dot or some other type of glue.
  • You can prop the wick in place with a couple of pencils.
  • You can place strips of tape over the mouth of the jar to hold the wick in place.

how to make jar candles

It doesn’t matter how you get it done, just figure out a way to convince Mr. Wick that he should stay in the middle of the jar.

Once the melted tallow has cooled off a bit (not hardened–just cooled), you can pour it into the jars.

If you like, you can add some essential oils at this stage. I gently stirred 30 drops into each pint-size jar. How much you use will depend on what oil you are using and how large your containers are.

Allow the tallow to harden completely, then trim the wick (if needed).

Candle Notes:

  • Although beef tallow can be pretty stinky when you are rendering it, thankfully, I haven’t noticed much of a smell when I burn my tallow candles.
  • If you are making these candles solely for emergency situations, I’d probably just omit the essential oils.
  • If you don’t butcher your own beef, check with your local butcher about buying beef fat so you can render your own tallow.
  • You can use other glass jars, but be extra-cautious, as sometimes they can shatter due to heat. To avoid this, heat them up (in the oven or with a hair dryer) before you pour the melted tallow inside. Canning jars are made to withstand high temps, which is why I prefer to use them for this.

how to make candles

Tuck your emergency candles away for next time there is a power outage, or burn them right away and enjoy the satisfaction of your very own homemade, toxin-free candles. :)

 

 

Comments

  1. Does this work with lard too? We raise pigs and I have alot of leftover lard.

    • Yep! You can use lard too.

      • Bill Townsend says:

        Hello jill,we love bacon in our home,and candles,I am curious to know how do you get the lard to get more solid? follow the same process as the beef tallow?would the home just smell like bacon all the time?and would the candles not turn rancid if not kept in a fringe? could you recommend a good book on the subject one with lots of good pictures in it would helpful.

        Thank you and take care ,
        Bill

      • So, then, if made from Lard, we could use the candles for Emergency FOOD if necessary?

  2. Oh, Jill, now I wish I would have had the foresight to ask the butcher to save me the tallow from our last quarter beef that we bought! We don’t raise our own beef, but maybe the butcher would sell me some tallow. I’d love to do this! We never have enough candles when we have a power outage, and I know that my little man, 7yo Malachi, would love helping me make these! You come up with the BEST posts!

  3. Venison tallow is wonderful!!! If you have hunters, save all you can, esp. from the ribs…. it burns brightly, slowly, and without any smell! When we were homeschooling, we made some dipped candles that way… lovely!

  4. Stopping in quickly to say..thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I am so excited to try this when I get a moment! Have to say I love the food can idea.. I save bits of wax from old candles and have been looking for a specific pot that I could use for melting them down. Never once thought of a can! Thanks so much for this!!

  5. Jill, thank you for this! I was always under the impression that tallow stunk when it burned and was sooty. I am happy to learn they do not stink! Are they sooty or smoky? It’s also a good idea to use the jars because they keep it all inside and you don’t have to worry about drips. Also in high summer heat areas, the tallow might get pretty soft, or at least I know lard would, so the jars also keeps the candle burning, maybe like oil?

  6. Great tutorial! I’m such a recycler, I save all of the old jars that my candles once burned out of, clean them out, and put them in the basement. I’ve used them for various things, but I think I might make them into new candles!

    Micheline

  7. How long can you store these? Wondering if after time the tallow will develop an off smell?

  8. Could we do this with beeswax as well? And like Donna, I’m wondering how long candles made from animal fats will keep.

  9. Great project and the best, lasting advice from it is to use a can to melt the wax. I learned the hard way not to melt beeswax in a regular sauce pan.

  10. We have lard from our pigs, does it need to be rendered before making candles? Great idea for using the lard!

    • Yes, render your pig fat. The best fat on a pit to use for soap, candles and for pies is called leaf lard. I save all my leaf lard to make tortillas and pies but the main thing you are looking for is the hard, dry fat. Leaf lard is the fat along the backbone. The are you cut the pork chops from. Leaf lard will pull away nicely from the back. I let ours cool pulled away and hanging over night and then I render it putting it in small empties cottage cheese containers in the freezer for later use. Skip the greasy fat. It is not good for soap, candles, or cooking. Adding a little bees wax to your candle will make it burn cleaner.

    • Yes– you will need to render it first.

  11. I love having another use for lard. I do have some concerns. I am curious how long before the fat goes rancid without something stabilize it? I also would use caution leaving these out in non emergency because my cats and dogs would be all over it.

    I also wanted to say that maybe go ahead and use the EO in the emergency candles. Isn’t that when you need the calming effect the most?? Ha. Thanks so much for this post. #1 best idea so far this year.

  12. I though EOs weren’t supposed to be heated. Is it really ok to use them in a candle?

  13. Hello all,
    I make candles also and found that you really wouldn’t anything that smells, it may bring people you don’t want around. I also put a pack of matches in the top and some foil to make a reflector to make it brighter. That way you will always have something to light it with.
    My son got to selling these to his friends and others and can’t believe how long they last and what a great gift to get some others to start prepping.

  14. How long are the candles good for — do they go rancid at any point? I made some beef Pho stock this weekend and have plenty of tallow to making other things.

  15. These are so much prettier (and probably much nicer to smell) than the hamburger grease emergency candles I made a while back, lol!! Very cool :)

  16. Thanks for posting.

    I am interested in making candles but most recipes called for ingredients I did not have. I will only need to buy the wicks using your idea.

    After reading some of the other comments; I suppose any fat would work, right? I am definitely going to experiment. :)

  17. I’ve got about 16lbs of beef suet that has been in my deep freezer for several years. This will be a perfect use for it! It was from the butcher where we ordered our first grassed beef side, but the suet didn’t come from my specific steer, so I’ve been hesitant to use it for eating or soap, since it was most likely from a feedlot raised animal, with God knows what as a diet. However, for candles, who gives a rip what the animal ate, lol! I did some research regarding the question of rancidity that keeps coming up in the comments, and it sounds like what causes tallow to go rancid is not doing a good job straining out the impurities and bits. If your fat is pure and kept in a cool, dry place, it should last a very long time. Probably a basement or bottom cupboard on the ground floor of your house would work fine, although a fridge would keep it even longer. Boy, there are sure a lot of great uses for tallow besides candles, like water proofing leather! I think I am going to make most of mine into candles, but save one jar for waterproofing boots and tack as well.

  18. I never saw an answer as to whether or not these would go rancid very quickly. To make them as emergency candles could mean them being stored for quite awhile. Anyone want to respond to ow long they will store? I have access to lots of lard and tallow. Would love to add candles to the way I use it.

  19. So my fiance and I are getting married in August. The most important element to our day is that it has to be 100% us. We’re doing a small ceremony, 30 people, our family is 5 of them plus officiant & photographer, on a Sunday afternoon at a Mountain State Park. Our’ reception’ will be a picnic with all homemade foods, that includes sauces of any sort. I’m even making the cake. Our ‘favors’ will be these candles and the scents will be of our favorite things, like Hazelnut coffee and my fiancees homemade rosemary & tea tree shave balm. :)

  20. I heard rendering your own tallow stinks really bad. Is that true?

  21. How long do they burn?
    Have you had any problems with rancid tallow or lard?

  22. Cathy holcombe says:

    Just made my first batch of tallow candles today!!!! I made the wick stay centered by punching a hole with an ice pick in the middle of canning jar lids, then feeding the wick through to stick up through the top. I figured I’ll just keep them with my candle stuff and use them each time I make a batch. Next I want to make taper candles….but I think I’ll need a mold for those, not having the time or patience for hand dipped. Thanks for the tutorial!!!!